Mind you, I’m glad the discomfited and the discombobulated were able to find common cause at last week’s Fox and Friends Fest, because it’s healthy for our friends on the right to get out from behind those computer screens once in awhile to stir the turgid blood, even if it is only Rick and Bubba’s call to protest higher taxes on themselves that gets their hemoglobin hopping.
I’m all for Texas seceding as well, and perhaps they could take Oklahoma with them. It’d be bad news for family and friends living in Austin, but I think they’d make it their business immediately to secede from the secession. (If worse came to worst, I’m sure Louisiana would take them in.)
However, this is the poetry issue, ill suited for political commentary... unless I just happened to have a couple of haiku for the occasion. I know Wade Kwon does this sort of thing better, but I think we can knock out our MDR of current events expeditiously this way:
Veterans Park Tea Party
Hoover’s air. The Darjeeling
is limited here.
Lone Star Secession
Talking hats, drowned out
by cattle who drive themselves.
Go away sooner.
Now, with commentary thus dispatched, we can get on to the real treat of this column, which is passing on to you a bit of the poetry of Jane Trechsel. Renowned always in these parts for her formidable theatrical skills and lately for her environmental activism, Jane has been putting pen to paper in a thoughtful way most of her life, but her personal writings have never made the leap to publication (though you may have seen her byline on the best-selling instructional guide, A Morning Cup of Yoga).
Lately I came into possession of a copy of Aberdeen Light and Shadow, a “personal word album” she’s taking out for a test drive among family and friends while contemplating a wider distribution. Back when Jane was touring the nation with her peerless rendition of The Belle of Amherst (directed just as peerlessly by her late husband, Frank), I wondered how she came by her understanding of the poetic impulse to portray Emily Dickinson so powerfully. Aberdeen Light and Shadow suggests she came by it altogether naturally.
A darkened room after dinner
We linger at the table
drink some more
talk about our grown children,
the dark ones and the light ones.
Or our gardens
“I was in the yard all day today.”
We talk about the sweet faces
that come back each year
iris, phlox and daisies
and the ones that don’t
I tell them I dreamed
I was in a car alone and took a wrong turn
but when I started to go back,
I couldn’t see —
Something was wrong with my eyes.
Yes. They know that one.
One says “I wake at night
and thank God I don’t have to live forever.”
We laugh. Sometimes we are silent.
Night steps closer.
We are old friends.
We don’t tell each other
what it’s like to feel the body
going down, entering the earth
feet first —
We don’t talk about numbness
or the darkness that has risen to the knees.
We murmur to each other
like little birds at nightfall in the hedges
It’s late —
We have had enough to drink
and eat, enough talk.
We are tired
Why don’t we go home?
Because we know.
We know that it’s very late.
My Next Life
It is a life I once lived
or one to come. It is familiar.
Not speaking — humming to myself
drying fish, drying clothes on a line
A fringe of woods and no neighbors.
In winter I stay inside.
Onions sprout on a basket
A bag of rice leans against a wall.
I look at the sky and feed wild things
In the mornings, my hands around a cup —
At night I curl like an animal in the dark.
My soul a wide-eyed child watching
as I play my part in one more script,
This story of accumulations is almost over.
The rooms the drawers the silver the furniture
I will drop it all like clothing
And run naked into my next life.
The only thing I truly own in any life
Is my breath,
Or is that even mine?
We know what is coming. Horses sense storm
Small snow beings sense avalanche.
We know that darkness wants its turn.
Balance is overdue
In the spring and summer as night comes
darkness rises from the ground
to accumulate under the hollies
and under the leafing trees.
It moves quietly underfoot like fog,
piles in drifts in the corners of my yard
When it has risen to a certain depth
a street light comes on duty and chases it away.
The way we live now, in cities, darkness is
We never get to know it
It wanders around out there beneath the trees
We never invite it into our homes.
When I fly across the country at night
there’s hardly any darkness left
empty buildings, parking lots
train yards and alleys, sidewalks and neighborhoods
whole towns mindlessly blooming
We’ve made the stars invisible and irrelevant
Darkness has been driven down
The birds have learned to roost anyway
but sleep is fitful. Not right.
Darkness is due
Courtney Haden is a Birmingham Weekly columnist. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org